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Safe Grilling for a Great Summer!

May 15, 2014

Lake Diablo

There is nothing I like more than a really good barbequed chicken. I was lucky and grew up in a home where my dad (our Subscriber Services Manager, Tracy Skinner) was a pretty good cook and really good at barbequing. As a kid, all of the barbequing was done on a charcoal grill, and when I got my own place I had hoped to keep one out on the balcony as well. Unsurprisingly, about six months after I moved in my homeowner’s association decided to ban charcoal grills at my condominium complex but decided to still allow gas grills. Regardless of the kind of grill used I’m excited that the weather is heating up, summer is growing closer, and barbequing season is almost in full swing! To ensure your food not only tastes great but doesn’t pose a fire hazard, here are a few hints for safe grilling:

  • If you live in an apartment or condo, check the rules and find out what type of barbecue is allowed. Many, like mine, will not allow charcoal grills because of the fire hazard they pose.
  • Be sure to keep your barbecue away from railings, eaves and overhangs, and branches. These are combustible and could ignite quickly if a flame gets out of control.
  • Have a three-foot “safe zone” around the grill where dogs and kids are not allowed. While roughhousing it can be easy to knock a barbecue over causing injury and increasing the potential for fire.
  • Double-check that your propane tank on a gas grill has an overfill protection device (OPD). These were generally implemented after 2002 and prevent a tank from getting overfilled.
  • For charcoal grills, dispose of the hot coals properly. Never place them in plastic or combustible containers (wood and paper garbage bags are also common). Metal is best and be sure the coals are completely cooled before disposing of them.
  • Never barbecue indoors. Keep it outside, in a well-ventilated area!Grill
  • Clean your grill. Removing buildup from the grease and fats from the trays will help prevent flare-ups.
  • If you have a gas grill, always check the connections before the first use of the year and periodically throughout the year.
  • Check and double-check the gas is turned off when you’re finished grilling. It’s easy to forget, since the grill is outside and the meal is over, but is often forgotten.
  • Have an extinguisher nearby! You never know when you might need it.

Grilling safety is a topic that hits close to home for me. Last month a friend’s husband forgot to turn the gas off on their grill after he was done cooking. The family went out to get ice cream after dinner, and a spark occurred…the gas build-up inside the closed lid of the barbecue caused a small explosion, which ended up setting their house on fire. When they got home from ice cream the fire department had already arrived and their home had sustained over $250,000 worth of damage. On top of the serious damage to their home, they were woefully underinsured and both my friend and her husband have had to take on second jobs to help cover the costs of the damage.

Enjoy your grilling and be safe!

Article by: Kristen Skinner

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